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Difference Between Technical Writing and Literary Writing
Main difference – technical writing vs literary writing.
Technical writing and Literary writing are two important writing styles used by writers depending on the subject matter, purpose and intended audience. The main difference between technical writing and literary writing is that, literary language is the writing style used in literary work while technical writing is a style used in writing for a particular field. Let us first briefly analyze theses two styles separately before discussing the difference between technical writing and literary writing.
What is Literary Writing
Literary writing is a style of writing that is used in creative and literary work; this is the style of writing that is used in fiction . Examples for literary writing includes poems, novels, short stories, dramas etc. The most significant difference between literary writing and other styles of writing is that the language used in literary writing uses many literary figures . Observe the below-given stanza to observe this feature.
“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.”
(First stanza from William Wordsworth’s “I wandered Lonely As a Cloud”)
A Novel, an example for literary writing
What is Technical Writing
Technical writing is a style of writing used in delivering technical information regarding a particular subject. Here, the intended audience should have a certain knowledge about the subject in order to understand the technical jargon and the meaning of the text. Technical writing is the style of writing that is mostly observed in Non-fiction. Examples for technical writing include essays , manuals, reports etc. This style of writing is direct and simple. If we were to express the idea conveyed in the above poem in technical writing, we’d simply say. “The narrator was walking alone, when he saw a patch of daffodils near the lake.”
A Manual, an example for Technical Writing
Let us now look at the differences between technical writing and literary writing,
Technical writing: Technical writing is a process of managing technical information in a way that allow people to take actions.
Literary writing: Literary writing is a creating innovative, creative work, such as poems or novels, and compilations or volumes of creative work.
Technical Writing: Written to inform, instruct readers about a certain thing.
Literary Writing: Written to entertain, amuse readers.
Technical Writing: The language used in technical writing is direct, factua l, and straightforward.
Literary Writing: The language used in literary writing is creative, imaginative and uses literary techniques like hyperbole, personification, similes, metaphors, etc.
Technical Writing: Technical Writing appeals to the mind.
Literary Writing: Literary Writing appeals to emotions.
Technical Writing: Technical writing has technical vocabulary, simple sentences, impersonal, objective tone .
Literary Writing: Literary writing might have complex sentence structure and linguistic aspects like dialects, ambiguity, etc.
Technical Writing: Technical writing is written for those who are knowledgeable about that particular subject area.
Literary Writing: Literary writing is written for general readers.
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Literature is a term used to describe written and sometimes spoken material. Derived from the Latin word literature meaning "writing formed with letters," literature most commonly refers to works of the creative imagination, including poetry, drama , fiction , nonfiction , and in some instances, journalism , and song.
What Is Literature?
Simply put, literature represents the culture and tradition of a language or a people. The concept is difficult to precisely define, though many have tried; it's clear that the accepted definition of literature is constantly changing and evolving.
For many, the word literature suggests a higher art form; merely putting words on a page doesn't necessarily equate to creating literature. A canon is the accepted body of works for a given author. Some works of literature are considered canonical, that is, culturally representative of a particular genre (poetry, prose, or drama).
Literary Fiction vs. Genre Fiction
Some definitions also separate literary fiction from so-called "genre fiction," which includes types such as mystery, science fiction, western, romance, thriller, and horror. Think mass-market paperback.
Genre fiction typically does not have as much character development as literary fiction and is read for entertainment, escapism, and plot, whereas literary fiction explores themes common to the human condition and uses symbolism and other literary devices to convey the author's viewpoint on his or her chosen themes. Literary fiction involves getting into the minds of the characters (or at least the protagonist) and experiencing their relationships with others. The protagonist typically comes to a realization or changes in some way during the course of a literary novel.
(The difference in type does not mean that literary writers are better than genre fiction writers, just that they operate differently.)
Why Is Literature Important?
Works of literature, at their best, provide a kind of blueprint of human society. From the writings of ancient civilizations such as Egypt and China to Greek philosophy and poetry, from the epics of Homer to the plays of William Shakespeare, from Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte to Maya Angelou , works of literature give insight and context to all the world's societies. In this way, literature is more than just a historical or cultural artifact; it can serve as an introduction to a new world of experience.
But what we consider to be literature can vary from one generation to the next. For instance, Herman Melville's 1851 novel " Moby Dick " was considered a failure by contemporary reviewers. However, it has since been recognized as a masterpiece and is frequently cited as one of the best works of Western literature for its thematic complexity and use of symbolism. By reading "Moby Dick" in the present day, we can gain a fuller understanding of literary traditions in Melville's time.
Ultimately, we may discover meaning in literature by looking at what the author writes or says and how he or she says it. We may interpret and debate an author's message by examining the words he or she chooses in a given novel or work or observing which character or voice serves as the connection to the reader.
In academia, this decoding of the text is often carried out through the use of literary theory using a mythological, sociological, psychological, historical, or other approaches to better understand the context and depth of a work.
Whatever critical paradigm we use to discuss and analyze it, literature is important to us because it speaks to us, it is universal, and it affects us on a deeply personal level.
Students who study literature and read for pleasure have a higher vocabulary, better reading comprehension, and better communication skills, such as writing ability. Communication skills affect people in every area of their lives, from navigating interpersonal relationships to participating in meetings in the workplace to drafting intraoffice memos or reports.
When students analyze literature, they learn to identify cause and effect and are applying critical thinking skills. Without realizing it, they examine the characters psychologically or sociologically. They identify the characters' motivations for their actions and see through those actions to any ulterior motives.
When planning an essay on a work of literature, students use problem-solving skills to come up with a thesis and follow through on compiling their paper. It takes research skills to dig up evidence for their thesis from the text and scholarly criticism, and it takes organizational skills to present their argument in a coherent, cohesive manner.
Empathy and Other Emotions
Some studies say that people who read literature have more empathy for others, as literature puts the reader into another person's shoes. Having empathy for others leads people to socialize more effectively, solve conflicts peacefully, collaborate better in the workplace, behave morally, and possibly even become involved in making their community a better place.
Other studies note a correlation between readers and empathy but do not find causation . Either way, studies back the need for strong English programs in schools, especially as people spend more and more time looking at screens rather than books.
Along with empathy for others, readers can feel a greater connection to humanity and less isolated. Students who read literature can find solace as they realize that others have gone through the same things that they are experiencing or have experienced. This can be a catharsis and relief to them if they feel burdened or alone in their troubles.
Quotes About Literature
Here are some quotes about literature from literature giants themselves.
- Robert Louis Stevenson : "The difficulty of literature is not to write, but to write what you mean; not to affect your reader, but to affect him precisely as you wish."
- Jane Austen, "Northanger Abbey" : "The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid."
- William Shakespeare, "Henry VI" : “I’ll call for pen and ink and write my mind.”
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What is Literature? || Definition & Examples
"what is literature": a literary guide for english students and teachers.
View the full series: The Oregon State Guide to English Literary Terms
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What is Literature? Transcript (English and Spanish Subtitles Available in Video; Click HERE for Spanish Transcript)
By Evan Gottlieb & Paige Thomas
The question of what makes something literary is an enduring one, and I don’t expect that we’ll answer it fully in this short video. Instead, I want to show you a few different ways that literary critics approach this question and then offer a short summary of the 3 big factors that we must consider when we ask the question ourselves.
Let’s begin by making a distinction between “Literature with a capital L” and “literature with a small l.”
“Literature with a small l” designates any written text: we can talk about “the literature” on any given subject without much difficulty.
“Literature with a capital L”, by contrast, designates a much smaller set of texts – a subset of all the texts that have been written.
So what makes a text literary or what makes a text “Literature with a capital L”?
Let’s start with the word itself. “Literature” comes from Latin, and it originally meant “the use of letters” or “writing.” But when the word entered the Romance languages that derived from Latin, it took on the additional meaning of “knowledge acquired from reading or studying books.” So we might use this definition to understand “Literature with a Capital L” as writing that gives us knowledge--writing that should be studied.
But this begs the further question: what books or texts are worth studying or close reading ?
For some critics, answering this question is a matter of establishing canonicity. A work of literature becomes “canonical” when cultural institutions like schools or universities or prize committees classify it as a work of lasting artistic or cultural merit.
The canon, however, has proved problematic as a measure of what “Literature with a capital L” is because the gatekeepers of the Western canon have traditionally been White and male. It was only in the closing decades of the twentieth century that the canon of Literature was opened to a greater inclusion of diverse authors.
And here’s another problem with that definition: if inclusion in the canon were our only definition of Literature, then there could be no such thing as contemporary Literature, which, of course, has not yet stood the test of time.
And here’s an even bigger problem: not every book that receives good reviews or a wins a prize turns out to be of lasting value in the eyes of later readers.
On the other hand, a novel like Herman Melville’s Moby-Di ck, which was NOT received well by critics or readers when it was first published in 1851, has since gone on to become a mainstay of the American literary canon.
As you can see, canonicity is obviously a problematic index of literariness.
So… what’s the alternative? Well, we could just go with a descriptive definition: “if you love it, then it’s Literature!”
But that’s a little too subjective. For example, no matter how much you may love a certain book from your childhood (I love The Very Hungry Caterpillar ) that doesn’t automatically make it literary, no matter how many times you’ve re-read it.
Furthermore, the very idea that we should have an emotional attachment to the books we read has its own history that cannot be detached from the rise of the middle class and its politics of telling people how to behave.
Ok, so “literature with a capital L” cannot always by defined by its inclusion in the canon or the fact that it has been well-received so…what is it then? Well, for other critics, what makes something Literature would seem to be qualities within the text itself.
According to the critic Derek Attridge, there are three qualities that define modern Western Literature:
1. a quality of invention or inventiveness in the text itself;
2. the reader’s sense that what they are reading is singular. In other words, the unique vision of the writer herself.
3. a sense of ‘otherness’ that pushes the reader to see the world around them in a new way
Notice that nowhere in this three-part definition is there any limitation on the content of Literature. Instead, we call something Literature when it affects the reader at the level of style and construction rather than substance.
In other words, Literature can be about anything!
The idea that a truly literary text can change a reader is of course older than this modern definition. In the English tradition, poetry was preferred over novels because it was thought to create mature and sympathetic reader-citizens.
Likewise, in the Victorian era, it was argued that reading so-called “great” works of literature was the best way for readers to realize their full spiritual potentials in an increasingly secular world.
But these never tell us precisely what “the best” is. To make matters worse, as I mentioned already, “the best” in these older definitions was often determined by White men in positions of cultural and economic power.
So we are still faced with the question of whether there is something inherent in a text that makes it literary.
Some critics have suggested that a sense of irony – or, more broadly, a sense that there is more than one meaning to a given set of words – is essential to “Literature with a capital L.”
Reading for irony means reading slowly or at least attentively. It demands a certain attention to the complexity of the language on the page, whether that language is objectively difficult or not.
In a similar vein, other critics have claimed that the overall effect of a literary text should be one of “defamiliarization,” meaning that the text asks or even forces readers to see the world differently than they did before reading it.
Along these lines, literary theorist Roland Barthes maintained that there were two kinds of texts: the text of pleasure, which we can align with everyday Literature with a small l” and the text of jouissance , (yes, I said jouissance) which we can align with Literature. Jouissance makes more demands on the reader and raises feelings of strangeness and wonder that surpass the everyday and even border on the painful or disorienting.
Barthes’ definition straddles the line between objectivity and subjectivity. Literature differs from the mass of writing by offering more and different kinds of experiences than the ordinary, non-literary text.
Literature for Barthes is thus neither entirely in the eye of the beholder, nor something that can be reduced to set of repeatable, purely intrinsic characteristics.
This negative definition has its own problems, though. If the literary text is always supposed to be innovative and unconventional, then genre fiction, which IS conventional, can never be literary.
So it seems that whatever hard and fast definition we attempt to apply to Literature, we find that we run up against inevitable exceptions to the rules.
As we examine the many problematic ways that people have defined literature, one thing does become clear. In each of the above examples, what counts as Literature depends upon three interrelated factors: the world, the text, and the critic or reader.
You see, when we encounter a literary text, we usually do so through a field of expectations that includes what we’ve heard about the text or author in question [the world], the way the text is presented to us [the text], and how receptive we as readers are to the text’s demands [the reader].
With this in mind, let’s return to where we started. There is probably still something to be said in favor of the “test of time” theory of Literature.
After all, only a small percentage of what is published today will continue to be read 10, 20, or even 100 years from now; and while the mechanisms that determine the longevity of a text are hardly neutral, one can still hope that individual readers have at least some power to decide what will stay in print and develop broader cultural relevance.
The only way to experience what Literature is, then, is to keep reading: as long as there are avid readers, there will be literary texts – past, present, and future – that challenge, excite, and inspire us.
Interested in more video lessons? View the full series:
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